Upson, Andrew Bernard "Bernie"
11/30/1937 - 07/17/2014
Andrew Bernard "Bernie" Upson, 76, of Ithaca, NY, passed away peacefully with his wife by his side at HospiCare of Tompkins County on Thursday, July 17, 2014. He was born on November 30, 1937, in New York City to Adrena Elizabeth Watson Upson and John Freeman Upson. He spent his early years in Harlem until the family moved to Queens in the early 1950s. Passionate about music, and especially jazz, from an early age, Bernie took up the double bass, and was touring the East Coast by the age of 20. His music took him around the world and led him to play and record with many famous musicians. He eventually landed in Central New York, and has spent the past 25+ years playing with the region's finest musicians. In 2002, he met the love of his life, Deborah Clover, and moved to Ithaca. They were married on April 23, 2003, and Bernie quickly became a regular on the Ithaca music scene, performing until May, 2014, when he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of liver cancer. Bernie is survived by his wife, Deborah Clover; mother, Adrena Upson; son, Andre and daughter-in-law Cheryl Upson; stepson, Nathan Clover-Owens; stepson, Ryan Clover-Owens and partner Friede Sander; sister, Leona Upson Bell; sister-in-law, Joan Upson; and aunt, Ophelia Upson. In addition, he leaves behind a host of grand- and great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and numerous cousins. He was predeceased in this life by his father John Freeman Upson and brother Ollie "Bob" Upson. A loving and devoted husband, son, father, grandfather, and uncle, Bernie is also deeply missed by a great many friends, fans and musical colleagues. From Queens to Syracuse to Ithaca, he mentored three generations of younger jazz musicians, and inspired many more through his music, encouragement, kindness and friendship. The family would like to extend a special thank you to the staff at HospiCare of Tompkins County for the sensitive and skilled care they provided to Bernie during the final weeks of his life. And to the numerous friends who surrounded him and his family with love and care, and who continue to assist during this difficult time. A memorial service will be held on Sunday, August 31, 2014, at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 402 North Aurora St. Doors will open at 3:00 p.m. with the service beginning at 4:00 p.m. Michelle Courtney Berry will officiate. Musicians are encouraged to bring instruments and join in a jam session in Bernie's honor immediately following. Donations are still being accepted at www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/for-the-benefit-of-bernie/195124 to help defray uncovered medical expenses. Memorial donations may also be made to HospiCare of Tompkins County, 172 East King Road, Ithaca, NY, 14850.
Published in Ithaca Journal on Aug. 28, 2014